Sunburns and tans are a result of too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Even when a sunburn or tan fades, the damage caused to skin cells does not, and the effects cannot be reversed. These effects include early aging of the skin (wrinkles, age spots, etc.) and even skin cancer.
Sun exposure happens when you’re doing everyday activities such as biking, gardening, and walking. People who have jobs that require them to work outside are more likely than anybody else to be overexposed.
There are three skin cancers that are most common. These include basal cell, squamous, and melanoma. About 90% of skin cancers are the result of too much exposure to UV rays. UV exposure adds up over time, increasing the risk of developing skin cancer, so sun protection should start at an early age. Here are a few ways to stay sun safe:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat to get the best protection. If you’re wearing a baseball cap or short-sleeved shirt, make sure to put sunscreen on your ears, neck, and arms.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which are peak times for UV rays.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 on any exposed skin. Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors and re-apply it every two hours, as well as after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
- Wear extra sun protective clothing around surfaces like sand, water, and concrete that reflect the sun’s rays and could increase your risk of sunburn.
- If you work outdoors, ask about sun protection at your job, like wearing sun-protective clothing.
- Follow these tips on cloudy days too! Clouds do not block most UV rays.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
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